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Set your iChat icon with drag and drop Apps
It turns out that you can change the icon for yourself in iChat with drag and drop.

Once you've got iChat running, just drag an image file to the square to the right of your name in either the Rendezvous or Buddy List window. It will change the icon respresenting yourself in all your windows. Grab image files from /Library/User Pictures or where ever...

[Editor's note: I believe you can also add your own image to your Address Book entry and it will be used by iChat.]
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Switch between open iChat windows Apps
This doesn't appear to be documented anywhere in the program of help files, but command-` (below the ESC key on US keyboards) will switch between multiple open iChat windows.

[Editor's note: This also works in the 10.2 Finder ... I honestly can't recall whether it worked in 10.1 or not.]
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Create an iMovie PAL project without a PAL camera Apps
When iMovie creates a new project, it defaults to NTSC unless you have a PAL camera connected. If you don't have a PAL camera (say you want to edit a DV Stream produced by an InterView device for example), but want to create a PAL project, there's no option in iMovie to do so. Of course, there is a way. Here's what to do:
  1. Create a new project and save it while it is empty. This should create a folder containing a file with the same name as that folder (i.e. the name of the project).

  2. Open the file inside the project folder whose name is the same as the project using a text editor (e.g. BBEdit Lite, vi, etc.). It will look something like this:
    iMovie Project File

    External Version: 2.0
    Version: 0.9

    VideoStandard: NTSC
    ProjectSelection: 0 -1 -1
    PlayHead: 0
    AudioTrackMute: 0 0 0
  3. Change the "NTSC" to "PAL" and save the file.
When iMovie is opened again, you will now have a PAL project.
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Transferring images to a Palm 505 Apps
5{ing to OS X, it turned out that I was unable to send photographs to my Palm 505. After some digging, I discovered the application SplashPhoto which does the trick for $9.95.
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Insert text files into documents via drag and drop Apps
If you have a text edit app (ive tried Word, BBEdit) in the background, dragging a file from a Finder window onto the open text document inserts the contents of the file at the current cursor position. I was expecting the path to the file to show up (similar to the behavior of dragging a file onto an open terminal window). For some reason this doesn't seem to work when dragging a text file onto an open TextEdit.app window, so perhaps it's app specific.

Anyways, it's a useful feature that I've begun to use for reusing chunks of PHP I may have written previously into new documents.

[Editor's note: I think this has been true for many apps for quite a few years, but it may not be known by everyone...]
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Change IE's JPEG picture handling preferences Apps
In the previous versions of Internet Explorer, when there was a JPEG on a web page that I wanted to click to either enlarge its view or to see the exact address of the image, I would be able to do it by clicking or option-clicking the JPEG. Most recently, in version 5.2 , I've noticed that I couldn't do it anymore. I tried everything from option-clicking to anything else I thought possible.

Well, I found out the problem: Explorer 5.2 has set JPEG picture viewing to work through Preview so that every time a user attempts to view a JPEG in the browser, instead it downloads the image then opens it with Preview. I found this to be very annoying.

So, I went into preferences , clicked on Receiving Files - File Helpers, then I scrolled down to the four JPEG Picture options. I clicked change on each one and then clicked Browse. I then selected the Internet Explorer 5.2 Application (which I had in my applications folder) and Abracadabra! My images opened up from then on in Internet Explorer and I could once again see the link to a picture by option-clicking it. Just in case, I also changed Handling to View w/ Browser as well as Destination Folder to Temporary Items Folder to insure that I woudn't have the image downloaded onto my computer.

I hope this will help anyone else out there that might be frustrated by this slight change.

[Editor's note: Although my copy of IE does have the JPEG settings set to "Preview," I wasn't able to make IE open Preview for any image, despite trying a variety of keyboard combos when I clicked the image. Still, this may be helpful to someone if your IE seems to be misbehaving with JPEG images...]
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Download programs while skipping extra delays Apps
Some software download sites, such as CNET's download.com and VersionTracker.com, add an extra page when you click the download link for a title of interest. On these (and other) sites, you'll be taken to a second page which, after a delay, then begins the download. Although I have nothing against a site's need for revenue from online advertising, I find this tactic highly annoying. After all, I've already seen at least one or two pages worth of ads by the time I hit the download link, and the artificial delay to allow me to view the ads is particularly grating.

Using most browsers, however, it's relatively easy to work around these behaviors. In my personal favorite, Mozilla, I just command-click the download link, and the download page opens in a new tab while keeping the current page frontmost (you can set this up in the Tabbed Browsing preferences). I notice a new tab has opened, and then five or so seconds later, I get the "Save file..." dialog box. I click "OK", and the download begins. When I'm done downloading the various programs I want, I just close the main browser window and all the tabs vanish.

You can do similar things in OmniWeb (control-click and then "Open link behind this window") and Internet Explorer (control-click and "Open link in new window," although it will open in front of (but offset from) your current window). Both of these methods will leave a number of windows onscreen if you're downloading multiple programs, which is one reason I greatly prefer the tabs in one window approach of Mozilla.

Editorial blurb: Does this mean that I deny these sites revenue by reducing their ads' impressions? No, as the ads themselves are still loaded and displayed, it's just that I never see them. It does mean those advertisers appearing on those pages will never get my click-through. And that's fine with me, for I'd rather not encourage this behavior. I do, however, often click-through on ads on the main pages if I see something of interest.
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Morphing images in OS X Apps
This weekend, I was looking for a way to morph (change) one image into another to show the "before and after" images for a small home remodeling project we just completed. At first, I was experimenting with the various transitions in iMovie, but wasn't satisfied with the results. A little digging on the web found MorphX, a slick piece of freeware by Martin Wennerberg which does the job amazingly well.

The interface is elegant, powerful, and yet easy to use. Simply drag in two images, mark out identical regions in each image for the program to work with, and then specify the number of morphing steps to be calculated. You can even set the morphing properties of each line or region independently from all the others, if you wish. and then wait a while ... perhaps a long while if you specified a large number of areas and steps in a complex image. I was using 100 steps, and my G4/733 took anywere from 30 to 60 minutes to calculate all the in-between steps.

Once done, you can (with QuickTime Pro, at least, I'm not sure abou the free version) save the resulting collection of images as a movie. I got the best results by then exporting this saved movie using a faster framerate; I used 10 frames per second during the MorphX image creation, but then set it to 30 frames per second on the QuickTime export. The resulting movie played back smoothly, making a nice transition from the "pre" image to the "post" image.

After spending quite a few hours with MorphX this weekend, it's now this week's Pick of the Week!
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Use a webcam from the terminal Apps
The goal was to figure out a way to capture images from a USB-webcam from the terminal. If all you want a simple point-and-click webcam app that runs on a host machine all the time, there are several very nice free and commercial apps out there (listed in the "References" section at the end of this article). In my case, I just wanted to grab an occasional image of our server room while logged in remotely to an OSX box located there.

There doesn't appear to be any purely command-line driven image capture apps for OSX at this time. At first I'd considered a quick AppleScript hack to launch and control one of the many GUI-based webcam apps from the terminal, but it bothered me that there wasn't a cleaner way to do this. Another possibility was to modify an existing webcam app, removing all the GUI-specific code and turning it into a command-line tool -- not pleasant a prospect, particularly if it meant mutilating someone else's code. Also, the 'just for fun' aspect of the project suspiciously began to sound like real work.

The approach I eventually took involves using a webcam-aware image processing package that happens to command-line component. Read the rest of the article for the how-to...
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Using a calendar on the iPod today Apps
At MacWorld NY, Steve Jobs showed off syncing iCal to an iPod which allows you to take your calendar with you. But since iCal isn't available yet, I was wondering if there was any other way to use the Calendar feature in the iPod 1.2 software.

A quick test revealed that the Calendar feature on the iPod uses vCal format. So, you can simply export you Calendar in vCal format and then copy it to the Calendar directory on your iPod. When you unplug your iPod, you can go view the calendar, and it will show you all of your appointments.

I've tried this with Palm Desktop, and I'm sure it will work with any other application that can export vCal format.

[Editor's note: I'm not 100% certain this qualifies as an "OS X hint", but I found it interesting and thought others might as well...so here it is!]
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